Champions League Preview: RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid

Ollie Irish

7th, August 2020

RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid meet in Portugal on Thursday with a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League on the line.

The competition has a revised format from the quarter-final stage, with all matches being staged as one-off ties at two stadiums in Portugal.

The Estadio Jose Alvalade will be the venue for this clash which brings together two teams with extremely contrasting styles of play.

Read on as we preview the Leipzig versus Atletico game and predict who we think will progress to a last four tie against either Atalanta or Paris Saint-Germain.

Atletico Overcome Tough Route to Quarter-Finals

Atletico are 13/10 favourites in the football betting to win in 90 minutes after overcoming a tough draw to reach this stage of the competition.

Diego Simeone’s side were pitched into a difficult group during the opening phase, but picked up 10 points to claim second spot behind Juventus.

They were subsequently written off after drawing Liverpool in the round of 16, but produced a dogged display to knock-out the reigning champions.

The performance was another perfect example of Simeone’s ability to get his tactics spot on in big games and that should stand them in good stead against Leipzig.

Leipzig Aiming to Upset the Odds

Leipzig have been the surprise package in this season’s competition and their run to the quarter-finals bears some similarities to Ajax’s progress last time around.

They finished top of a competitive group containing Lyon, Benfica and Zenit St Petersburg, before being drawn against Tottenham Hotspur in the last 16.

The German side destroyed last year’s beaten finalists 4-0 on aggregate to send out a message that it would be foolish to underestimate theirs chances of making further progress.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann has impressed during his first season in charge and it will be intriguing to see him go head-to-head with Simeone on the best football streaming sites.

The Case for Atletico’s Defence

Defensive belligerence is the name of the game where Atletico are concerned and it has served them well over the past few seasons.

They conceded just five goals in six group games, before shipping two against Liverpool during the 210 minutes of that tie.

Atletico kept 18 clean sheets in La Liga this season, taking their tally to a 173 in 321 games since Simeone was appointed as manager.

Having conceded just six goals in 11 outings since the restart of the season, Atletico will be a tough nut for Leipzig to crack.

Werner Absence a Big Blow for Leipzig

Timo Werner’s absence from Leipzig’s line-up for the tie is undoubtedly a huge blow to their hopes of making it through to the last four.

Werner has scored more than a third of his team’s goals this season and would have provided a vital cutting edge against Atletico’s formidable backline.

Leipzig will point to the fact their midfield was the key to the victory over Spurs, but facing Atletico will be a completely different proposition.

Nagelsmann’s side have also only kept two clean sheets since the resumption of the season and they could have difficulty keeping Atletico at bay.

The Battle of the Tacticians

Simeone’s tactical acumen has helped to establish Atletico as a genuine force both in Spain and on the European stage.

He has twice led Atletico to the final of this competition in addition to winning the Europa League on two occasions.

By contrast, Nagelsmann’s managerial career is in its infancy, but he has already demonstrated his worth as a coach.

Leipzig were the only side to stop Bayern Munich scoring in a Bundesliga game this season – no mean achievement against a team who romped to the title.

The Sabitzer Factor

With Werner on the sidelines, there will be even more expectations placed on the shoulders of Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer.

The 26-year-old has been a standout performer in Europe this season, bagging four goals and two assists in seven appearances.

He scored twice in the 3-0 second leg victory over Spurs and his all-round play highlighted why he has been drawing admiring glances from other clubs.

Sabitzer also notched nine goals and eight assists in the Bundesliga this term and will need to be watched closely by Atletico on Thursday.

Atletico Look a Cut Above

Atletico have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League on seven previous occasions and that experience could prove to be invaluable against Leipzig.

They have won seven and drawn five of their last 17 European matches outside Madrid, showcasing their ability to get the job done away from their own stadium.

They have lost just five of their last 30 matches in continental competitions and have won their last eight knockout ties against German sides.

Those statistics are too good to ignore and Atletico look a banker bet at odds of 4/6 to make it through to the semi-finals.

Posted in Betting & predictions, Champions League

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